Devin Hester had a forgettable season as a return man but that doesn't mean the Bears are coming out of 2008 empty-handed.
Danieal Manning has gotten some props.
While the Bears were shut out in the All-Pro balloting done by the Associated Press, the most widely used list, he earned first team All-NFL honors in balloting done by Pro Football Weekly and the Pro Football Writers of America.
Manning was chosen as the kickoff returner, the only Bear to make the list. When it came to all-conference teams, outside linebacker Lance Briggs joined Manning on the NFC squad selected by panelists.
The All-Pro team only includes one spot for a returner and that list was topped by the New York Jets' Leon Washington, followed by Tampa Bay's Clifton Smith. Manning didn't receive a single vote despite leading the league with a 29.7-yard average on kickoff returns. He took over primary duties from Devin Hester during the fourth quarter of the Nov. 16 game at Green Bay. Smith wound up getting the NFC's Pro Bowl nod.
Here is how All-Pro voting broke down at kickoff returner:
Leon Washington, NY Jets, 19; Clifton Smith, Tampa Bay, 16; Leodis McKelvin, Buffalo, 4; Josh Cribbs, Cleveland, 4; Darren Sproles, San Diego, 2; Johnnie Lee Higgins, Oakland, 1; Roscoe Parrish, Buffalo, 1; Justin Miller, Oakland, 1; Reggie Bush, New Orleans, 1.
While the club has made no official announcement, Manning is expected to open 2009 as the kickoff returner with the Bears hoping that Hester can rediscover his magic as a punt returner. He never found any comfort level and averaged just 6.2 yards. Even with Hester not meeting expectations, Dave Toub's special teams unit finished the season ranked eighth.